We still don't know exactly when Diablo III will go on sale, but at least now we know it won't be "when it's done."
Blizzard has famously said for years that they won't ship hotly anticipated action dungeon crawler Diablo III until it's done. But yesterday afternoon Diablo III lead designer Jay Wilson told gamers that the game would inexplicably ship without the player versus player arena system.
"As we're counting down the days until we're ready to announce a release date for Diablo III, we've come to realize that the PvP game and systems aren't yet living up to our standards," Wilson wrote in the Blizzard forums. "Today, we wanted to let you know that we've made the difficult decision to hold back the PvP Arena system and release it in a patch following the game's launch. After a lot of consideration and discussion, we ultimately felt that delaying the whole game purely for PvP would just be punishing to everyone who's waiting to enjoy the campaign and core solo/co-op content, all of which is just about complete."
The news comes the same day that the company held a panel about the game's art, reiterating during the Game Developer Conference talk that the game would ship when it's done. During an earnings call last month, an executive at Blizzard parent company Activision Blizzard said the game would hit in the second quarter of this year, which runs from April to June. The news is an apparent push back from earlier rumblings that the game would hit in "early 2012."
Just last week Blizzard president Mike Morhaime took to the forums to assure fans that layoffs at the company wouldn't impact the development of any of their games, including Diablo III.
In yesterday's forum post, Wilson pointed out that while the Arena won't be ready when the game is, that at least players will be able to play the game while they wait for it to be completed.
Once the PvP Arena is complete it will be added to the game as a patch, he said. That patch will include multiple Arena maps with themed locations and layouts, PVP-centric achievements, a "personal progression system" and a matchmaking system.
"We know a lot of you are looking forward to PvP, and we'll be focusing our post-launch efforts on making sure the Arenas are as brutal, bloody, fast-paced, and awesome as we know they can be," he wrote. "In the meantime, we're in the process of putting the finishing touches on what we think is a truly epic campaign and co-op experience for launch."
We've contacted Blizzard for comment on more details about why they're shipping the game with an unfinished component and will update when they reply.